Sometimes it is necessary to have a tooth removed. Common reasons for dental extractions include infection, disease, teeth crowding, or injury. Your dentist will usually refer you to an oral surgeon who specializes in mouth surgeries to extract your tooth. If there is an infection present, the extraction should be scheduled as soon as possible so that it doesn’t spread or cause more serious problems. It is helpful to know what to expect during and after a tooth extraction so you will be prepared.
What is the procedure like?
You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the extraction area, or a stronger general anesthetic if several teeth are being removed or the procedure is complex. General anesthesia will put you to sleep and prevent pain in your entire body. After the extraction is complete, you may need stitches which will either have to be removed later or will dissolve on their own. You might be instructed to bite down on gauze initially after the procedure to help stop any bleeding, which is a normal part of the tooth extraction procedure.
What about recovery?
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully for the best recovery results. You can usually expect recover to take at least a few days. Here are some guidelines to help with healing:
• Take pain medications as prescribed.
• Change gauze pads before they are saturated with blood.
• Do not drink through a straw for the first 24 hours.
• Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day after the first 24 hours following surgery. This will help reduce pain and swelling.
• Avoid smoking.
• Limit physical activity because it can promote bleeding.
• Eat soft foods like thin soup, gelatin, and pudding. As you heal, you can increase your intake of solid foods.
• Try not to rub the extraction area with your tongue.
• Carefully brush your teeth and tongue as directed by your doctor.
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Maintaining good oral health includes more than just brushing and flossing. You also need to see a dentist regularly to treat any problems that arise with your teeth and gums, and to have more extensive cleanings than you are able to do yourself. Many oral health problems go unnoticed by the patient, but your dentist can detect and treat them before the problem becomes severe. Here is what you can expect when visiting your dentist.
What happens on the first visit?
Your first appointment with a dentist requires some extra time and examination. First, you’ll be asked to complete medical history forms about past dental work, conditions, diseases, and similar issues. You will need to list any medications you are taking and dosages. There will also be questions about your general health, because sometimes other medical conditions and drugs affect your oral health. Next, you will be examined to determine your current dental condition, and asked questions about pain or problems. If you have any dental anxiety or fears, share that with your dentist so that you can work together to make you more comfortable. Also, it is likely that your dentist will recommend a set of initial X-rays to look for problems and establish a baseline for your care.
What about follow-up visits?
As you maintain regular dental visits twice a year, your dentist will get to know you and your oral health. Your medical history won’t be required, unless you have updates about changes in your health or medications. The main focus of follow-up visits will be addressing concerns you may have, and performing a thorough examination and cleaning. Your dentist will check your neck and head to look for any unusual lumps or swellings in lymph nodes or salivary glands. Your gums will be examined for redness, swelling, or easy bleeding that may indicate gum disease. The soft tissues of your mouth like lips, tongue, and insides of your cheeks will be checked for spots, cuts, or swelling. Your dentist will examine every tooth looking for possible cavities or other problems. X-rays may be needed if anything requires further evaluation. Keeping a regular schedule of dental checkups will increase your chances for good oral health and a nice smile.
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Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life that brings about many changes to your body. Your oral health is affected as well. There are specific things to keep in mind during pregnancy related to your teeth, gums, and caring for them. Let’s talk about the things you should be thinking about for your mouth while expecting a baby.
Tell your dentist about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you’re taking, so that it’ll be easier to prescribe any drugs needed for you during dental treatment. Your dentist may also want to consult your doctor to discuss safe painkiller or antibiotic options for you during pregnancy.
If you have a dental emergency or a problem that needs diagnosis, an X-ray may be required. Radiation exposure from dental X-rays is very low, but your dentist will cover you with a leaded apron to protect your abdomen. A leaded thyroid collar will also be used to protect your thyroid from radiation.
It’s not uncommon for some women to develop pregnancy gingivitis, which is a gum problem that occurs during the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy. This condition is an inflammation of the gums that causes tenderness, swelling, and usually some bleeding during dental hygiene tasks. Your dentist may suggest more frequent cleanings during pregnancy to prevent gingivitis, because left untreated it can advance to more serious gum disease.
Some pregnant women experience overgrowths of tissue called pregnancy tumors, which appear on the gums mostly during the second trimester. They are not cancerous and are usually located between your teeth. Dentists believe they are related to having too much plaque. Pregnancy tumors bleed easily and appear red and raw. Usually they go away after the baby’s birth, but some women prefer to have them removed before then. Discuss options with your dentist to see what’s best for you.
Created to fill in the gap between missing teeth, a dental bridge can improve your oral health and renew your appearance. Missing teeth create problems; they often cause the surrounding teeth to shift, which may affect your bite or strain your jaw muscles. With a missing tooth, the odds increase that you will lose more teeth, especially if you don’t close the space at all. With a dental bridge, you dentist can restore the healthy and beauty of your smile.
A traditional bridge contains a false tooth called a pontic that sits between two prosthetic teeth. Your dentist will secure the bridge onto the abutment teeth, which can be your natural teeth or dental implants. Unlike removable oral appliances like dentures, a dental bridge is permanently affixed in your mouth.
Am I a good candidate for a bridge?
Anyone who has lost teeth is the right candidate for a dental bridge. Your dentist can anchor the bridge with your own teeth or with an implant, depending on your specific situation.
How do I maintain my bridge?
For optimal success, you need to take good care of your bridge. Brush and floss just like you would your natural teeth. If flossing is difficult, talk with your dentist about the best techniques.
Will the bridge look natural?
Your dentist will make sure the artificial teeth match neighboring teeth, as well as design the bridge to fit the unique shape of your teeth. People will only notice your attractive smile, not your dental work.